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Chertoff Unveils FEMA Changes on Eve of Hearing

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff speaks to state emergency management representatives in Alexandria, Va., Feb. 13.
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Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff speaks to state emergency management representatives in Alexandria, Va., Feb. 13.

Embattled Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announces changes in the way the Federal Emergency Management Agency deals with major disasters. New measures include a full-time response force and an improved tracking system for supplies.

Chertoff also rejected criticism that his department prioritizes dealing with terrorist threats over natural disasters, while accepting responsibility for the failures during the response effort to Hurricane Katrina.

Chertoff is due to face lawmakers Tuesday as a House committee prepares to officially release a scathing report into the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. The report targets Chertoff for much criticism.

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Pam Fessler
Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues.